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About the Texas Center for Climate Studies

The Texas Center for Climate Studies (TCCS) was established at Texas A&M University in 1993 to initiate, encourage, and support climate-related programs in research, education, service, and outreach, particularly as they relate to improving the quality of life and economic health of residents of the State of Texas. Since that time, many advances have been made. We are in the final stages of developing comprehensive prediction models of the regional climate system that can help us estimate and project how weather patterns, particularly extreme events, such as hurricanes, droughts and heat waves, may change. That, in turn, is linked to everything from energy demand to water availability, agricultural productivity to land use, human and animal health to property loss, and on and on. Because our climate is so deeply connected with human and environmental sustainability, changes in climate may well drive or disrupt many of the major economic sectors of Texas (agriculture, energy, tourism, manufacturing). The future resilience of the Texas economy, society, and environment will depend on how well informed we are and how well we can mitigate changes and/or adapt to them before they damage quality of life.

The TCCS mission is to advance understanding of why and how the climate is changing, and what those changes will mean for the State of Texas. Texas is uniquely susceptible to climate change, perhaps more than almost any other state, because it is situated in a region that divides the moisture-surplus climates to the east and the Chihuahuan Desert to the west. Any changes to the east-west divide between wet and dry regimes will have dire consequences to the region along this divide that includes the major cities of San Antonio, Austin, Waco, and Dallas-Forth Worth.  Our coastal cities, including Galveston, Corpus Christi, and Houston, are highly vulnerable to large hurricanes and coastal flooding that are projected to change in the future. For these reasons, Texas has been identified as one of the climate change hotspots in the US. A primary research objective of TCCS is to advance understanding of the climate system and climate impacts, improve climate predictions and projections, and better inform adaptation and mitigation strategies. Anticipating possible impacts of climate change on Texas can be accomplished by developing reasonable projections of a changed climate at a regional scale. Doing that requires the integrated expertise of atmospheric scientists, oceanographers, hydrologists, ecosystem scientists and many others. Therefore, TCCS is providing a hub for multidisciplinary research teams from institutions across Texas and the nation to work together to solve these complex problems. Researchers from Texas A&M, University of Texas, Texas Tech, Rice University, University of Houston, and many other institutions statewide are actively collaborating on multiple fronts through shared expertise to address common goals. This includes helping attract federal, private foundation, and industry funding for climate science research and education in Texas.

The TCCS mission is to promote translational research that takes what we learn from climate models and puts it into the hands of those who need it. Climate information or projections are not useful unless agricultural producers, resource managers, and any other decision makers can understand them and use them with confidence. Becoming climate resilient will require the effective transfer of climate knowledge to the sectors that will be impacted. Therefore, TCCS is engaging scientists and professionals from agriculture, public policy, health science, civil engineering, environmental planning, energy, and other sectors to promote the exchange of information, insight, knowledge, and skills so that decisions may be made based on better information.

The TCCS mission is to take an active role in communicating information about climate change and its potential impacts to the public. There is a great deal of uncertainty about climate change and how it may ultimately affect communities and individuals. Misconceptions, skepticism, and innumerable communication barriers continue to cloud the effective exchange of climate change information. Therefore, TCCS promotes focused efforts to improve climate change communication throughout Texas. This ranges from large programs such as statewide climate summit conferences to smaller, informal community-based “science cafes” where researchers meet with community groups to promote awareness and understanding. The goal is to establish a culture of open exchange that acknowledges the diversity of opinions and world-views on climate change. TCCS will also host a web site that provides research results, climate news, and educational materials for formal and informal teaching and learning. We will take advantage of the opportunities made possible through social networking to encourage active debate and exchange of climate issues and ideas and promote excitement about learning climate science. 

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